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Alfonso, C.A. (2000). Influence and Autonomy in Psychoanalysis: Stephen A. Mitchell, The Analytic Press, Hillside, NJ, 1997, 292 pp.. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 28(3):557-559.

(2000). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 28(3):557-559

Book Reviews

Influence and Autonomy in Psychoanalysis: Stephen A. Mitchell, The Analytic Press, Hillside, NJ, 1997, 292 pp.

Review by:
César A. Alfonso, M.D.

This dismantling of myself will be like the pruning of branches that drop from me and lighten my burden as with a tree.

Gabriela Mistral (1954)

Stephen A. Mitchell is a constructive theorist with a gift for synthesis and a keen understanding of paradigmatic shifts in contemporary psychoanalysis. In Influence and Autonomy in Psychoanalysis he embarks in the challenging project of careful examination of ethical dimensions in the evolution of psychoanalytic theory and technique. In his characteristic crisp and lucid literary style, Mitchell appeals to the humanistic core of the reader, demystifying analytic work by reminding us of the primacy of respect for our patient's self-determination as an essential component of all analytic interventions. This book is more than what its title promises. It is both an overview of the genesis of contemporary psychoanalytic ideas and a treatise on the artistry of life-enhancing interaction.

By decoding the etymology of the word analysis, one is reminded of the liberating purpose at the core of our field. From the Greek, ανα (ana) means, in this context, up, or upward movement. λνσισ (lysis), against popular opinion, does not mean destruction or dissolution, but rather loosing, facilitating, or setting free. In this engrossing book, Mitchell examines the depths of dyadic psychoanalytic process by looking at variables of the analyst's influence over the analysand's autonomy from a myriad of theoretical perspectives.

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